Northern Grampians Shire counts cost of Grampians fire

NORTHERN Grampians Shire Council has encouraged fire-affected residents to report property damage to council.

Municipal recovery manager Greg Little said council had started to assess the cost of last month's bushfire.

"But it's still early days," he said.

"People are under no obligation to tell council about any private property damage.

"It does help us if we do know how people have been impacted, though, so we can advocate on their behalf for state and commonwealth funding."

Mr Little said council wanted an estimate of the direct and indirect fire-related losses to businesses.

"We really need to get an understanding of that, so we can start to seek support for them," he said.

Mr Little said it would be some time before council could fully appreciate the financial impact of the fires.

"I can't see that it will be completed in this financial year," he said.

February 6 was the first time council had an opportunity to inspect fire-affected areas of Wartook.

The area around Lake Wartook falls into its municipal district.

Mr Little expected affected council assets to include roads, trees and signs.

Beyond that, he said there had been little opportunity to assess damage.

"A lot of people haven't had a chance to get back into Wartook," he said.

"We've been trying to find out who the owners are and become aware of the losses that have occurred, so we can initiate recovery actions."

Meanwhile, clean-up and recovery at Roses Gap has been progressing.

Council committed to having water restored to residents by the end of the month.

"We've also been working with insurance companies and residents to co-ordinate clean-up efforts, so there aren't 10 different contractors and trucks going in there," Mr Little said.

He said many residents were managing the clean-up privately.

"We've been filling in the gaps," he said.

"We're looking to engage a contractor about the damaged trees that need to be removed for safety.

"I'm aiming to have them engaged by this week."

He said council also had to start addressing the community's psycho-social needs, and ensuring residents could cope with what had happened.

The Grampians fire started more than a month ago.

Department of Environment and Primary Industries Wimmera district fire manager Lauren Todman said there was little new information to report.

Authorities declared the fire controlled on February 10.

It burnt 55,100 hectares after being ignited by lightning on January 15.

At its peak, the fire engaged more than 500 people from the department, Parks Victoria, CFA, local government, Victoria Police, Ambulance Victoria, VicRoads, Telstra, Powercor, GWMWater, the Department of Human Services, health services and the State Emergency Service.

Brimpaen, Laharum, Wartook, Roses Gap, St Helens Plains and Dadswells Bridge were hit.

A woman died and more than 135 structures were lost, including 32 dwellings.

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